Services Australia has handed Ernst & Young a $14.5 million contract to help deliver its GovERP project, making the Big Four consultancy a strategic delivery partner for the project touted as the “digital backbone” of the Australian Public Service.
Overdue tender documents published Friday reveal the arrangement has been in place since November last year and will run until at least mid-2023.
The service agency said the consultancy would be working widely across the project but declined to say exactly what the outputs of the $14.5 million contract are, how many EY staff would be working on it, or why tender documents were published nearly a month after they are required to under procurement rules.
Services Australia was last year given control of the GoERP project, which looks to consolidate and standardise the Australian Public Service’s (APS) shared service hubs through a standardised back end platform.
The hubs are controlled by six large government departments and provide corporate and financial services to dozens of Commonwealth entities using an SAP-based system scheduled for end of life in 2025.
The technology project is considered one of the biggest across government and Services Australia received funding for it over two years from 2021-22 in the last budget. But the total cost of the project is not publicly known, classified in the budget documentation as “not for publication” (nfp) due to commercial sensitivities.
“GovERP will provide a common digital backbone that allows the APS to rapidly collaborate, share and analyse data,” budget papers said.
The Public Sector union has previously raised concerns about the large technology project after it was revealed more than half the GovERP budget in 2019-20 and 2020-21 has gone towards private contractors and consultants.
The Department of Finance, then in control of GovERP, said the outsourcing was necessary because of a lack of in-house expertise.
Two years on and large parts of the project still need to be outsourced, according to new lead agency Services Australia.
“Ernst & Young will work alongside Services Australia staff to deliver the platform. They will provide specialised skills across design and development, enterprise architecture and release management,” a Services Australia spokesperson told InnovationAus.
“Services Australia engages contract services when specialised or professional skills are required.”
The spokesperson declined to provide a reason for the delay in posting tender details publicly, saying the agency will “always aim to publish Contract Notices on AusTender within the required timeframe”.
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